The Effect of Poor Workplace Communication
By now we’ve all heard about the drama that unfolded on ABC last week when Michael Strahan’s departure from Live! for Good Morning America was announced in an impromptu meeting. His co-host Kelly Ripa had not been notified beforehand, felt totally blindsided by the news, and ended up taking a couple of extra days off before a planned vacation to absorb this development and cool off.
Many have dubbed Ripa a diva for having this reaction, but let’s think about how any of us would feel if this happened to us in the workplace. Let’s say you’re a high-level director or VP at your company. You think you’re a valued employee and that the rest of the executive team respects you. You’ve worked for the company for nearly 30 years, after all, and helped them become very successful. Then one day you are called into a meeting and told that the company is re-organizing, and you realize you are the last to know. Not only that, you’re expected to be totally on board, smile, and act happy about it. Oh and by the way, you also have to spend a few months interviewing replacements for the people they let go in addition to your regular job duties. Add another layer to this if it still doesn’t sound that bad: you have to do all of this in front of millions of people. Might you not take a day or two off?
Ripa appeared back on the show yesterday, saying, “What transpired though over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and, most importantly, respect in the workplace.” She also said that the network had apologized and assured her that Live! is still a priority for them.
Communication is one of the biggest factors contributing to employee engagement. According to Aberdeen research, best in class organizations are 61% less likely than all others to have employees leave because of a lack of transparency and communication around internal decisions or changes. Gallup has also found that employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not.
Ripa’s treatment by ABC is a perfect example of how lack of communication can lead to disengagement. It can leave you feeling de-valued, excluded, and even disrespected when decisions that affect you are made without the chance for you to give input or at least feedback. As a manager, you should never leave an employee feeling blindsided. Even if they cannot do anything about the changes happening (just as Ripa couldn’t have blocked Strahan from leaving), the ability to ask questions, voice concerns, and feel prepared for the road ahead after the change is absolutely essential. If not you could be looking at a permanent vacation instead of just two days.